Most people think that Wisconsin cities are filled with a bunch of Laverne and Shirley look-alikes, Green Bay Packer snobs, and happy cows on happy farms.
While all this might be true for most Wisconsin cities, the trick is to find all of this goodness in the most affordable Wisconsin cities. And while learning the value of the dollar is important, you don’t want to stress about it daily when looking for a safe, affordable Wisconsin neighborhood, a job that pays the bills and then some, or the best deal on a case of Milwaukee’s Best.
Wisconsin residents are smart. They know a good deal when they see one. More importantly, they know that they can save money with every Wisconsin season.
In the fall and winter, residents head to their cabins to hunt and ice fish to offset their grocery budget. And when Wisconsin’s winter turns white, some people plow snow, shovel snow, and/or blow snow for a little extra cash. So, you don’t have to look any further if you choose The Badger State to call home. But you do have to check out our list below to find out the most affordable cities in Wisconsin for 2022.
We recommend that you grab yourself a brat, some cheese curds, find a sunny spot on Lake Michigan, and read on.
If you ask any Cheese Head, they will say, hands down, that their city is the best. Heck, there’s a reason The Badger State is the 20th most populous in the country.
And, yes, we think it has a little something to do with the great people, strong jobs in manufacturing, agriculture and healthcare. But, to the economically savvy, to truly be the best, the state must have the nicest, most affordable places to call home.
What’s the cheapest place in the Badger State? According to the most recent data, the cheapest place in Wisconsin is Rothschild.
So, if you care about home values, cost of living, and gold star quality of life, take a look at the list below to see where your Wisconsin dollar will let you live like a Milwaukee Buck on a dairy farmer’s salary.
And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about Wisconsin and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Wisconsin For 2022
Whether you’re ready to commit to a mortgage or just dipping your toes with a year’s lease, Rothschild has some seriously affordable housing options. Part of the reason Rothschild ranks so well in affordability is that the median income in Rothschild is $75,283, meaning folks can pay slightly more for housing than the preceding cities on this list without going bust. With a median rent of $813 and a median home price of $143,400,
Rothschild is comfortably in the top 20 statewide for both home price and rent to income ratios. Not to mention that it’s always 84 degrees at Logger’s Landing Waterpark, so you’ll be able to cheat winter better in Rothschild than anywhere else.
If you want to live in the cheapest place in America’s Dairyland, look no further than Merrill. Merrill is known as the “City of Parks, so you’ll never be left wondering how to entertain yourself free of charge. Merrill boasts the third cheapest homes in the state, and the absolute lowest you’ll see on this list, with a median price of $86,100. Even more important, though, is that Merrill’s median income is $47,031, meaning there’s nowhere in Wisconsin where you’ll spend less of your salary on your home.
Merrill is located in north-central Wisconsin.
Manitowoc is a city in and the county seat of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, United States. The city is located on Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Manitowoc River. According to the 2010 census, Manitowoc had a population of 33,736, with over 50,000 residents in the surrounding communities. The city’s sister city is Kamogawa, Japan.
Life in Two Rivers has a lot going for it. Low crime and a strong labor market make it an attractive place to put down roots. And a location on the banks of Lake Michigan provides an excellent view and numerous free-time options.
All this comes at a pretty penny, right? Not quite. In fact, Two Rivers stands as the number 4 most affordable location in all of Wisconsin.
The overall cost of living in Two Rivers comes in at about a 20% discount compared to the national average. In town, you’ll get deals on groceries and transportation. But there’s one place where you’ll really save money: your housing budget.
The median home value in the area sits at $93,400. In itself, that’s the sixth lowest figure in the state. But put that in context with local wage levels and the news gets even better. Two Rivers boasts the number 4.0 best home price-to-income ratio in Wisconsin.
Not looking to buy? Well, the median rent in town comes in at a reasonable $679 per month.
Kimberly is a village in Outagamie County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 6,468 at the 2010 census. The village is east of Appleton.
Waupun is the sixth cheapest city in Wisconsin, with the added bonus of being one of the best places to raise a family in the state. That means good schools, low crime, plenty of amenities for kids, and close proximity to major cities like Milwaukee and Green Bay. All that at a super affordable price. The median home price in Waupun is $127,300 and the median income is $55,621, putting the city in the top twenty statewide in home price to income ratio.
Located about 45 minutes northwest of Green Bay, Shawano ranks as the seventh most affordable city in Wisconsin. Shawano has the second cheapest homes on this list and the eighth cheapest homes in the state. Residents earn a median income of $48,505 and pay a median price of $98,600 for homes. On the other hand, Shawano is the least economical place to rent on this list, notwithstanding the fact that you can get an apartment for under $600/month here. Shawano is home to Twig’s Beverage, who make some of the finest craft soda in the Midwest.
Kronenwetter’s housing prices might make you think we’re crazy to include it on this list. But when you remember that Kronenwetter is also one of the richest places in Wisconsin, it all starts to make sense. In terms of both renting and buying, Kronenwetter has some of the best housing to income ratios in the state. Thanks to a median household income is $88,903, a $192,000 home or $911/month rent doesn’t phase Kronenwetter’s population in the slightest.
Kronenwetter is another Central Wisconsin village, just south of Rothschild.
Kaukauna is a city in Outagamie and Calumet counties, Wisconsin, United States. It is situated on the Fox River, approximately 100 miles north of Milwaukee. The population was 15,462 at the 2010 census. It is a part of the Appleton, Wisconsin Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Located 45 minutes southwest of Madison, Milton ranks as the tenth least expensive city in Wisconsin. And you don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy a wine slushie from Northleaf Winery, a Miltonite favorite. But the real reason Milton stands out in terms of affordability is its awesome home price to income ratio. With homes costing around $156,600 on a median income of $70,045, paying off the mortgage in Milton takes no time at all.
Cheapest Places To Live In Wisconsin FAQs
The county in Wisconsin with the lowest cost of living is Dane County. The average living wage in Dane County is $103,834 according to MIT data. Dane County has the lowest cost of living because it has relatively less expensive childcare and housing costs compared to Wisconsin as a whole. Childcare costs $25,655 a year in Dane County for two children compared to the Wisconsin average of $19,401. Housing costs, defined as a blend of the average rent and average mortgage payment, are $14,532 per year in Dane County compared to $10,946 on average in Wisconsin.
The cost of living in Wisconsin is 3.2% higher than the US average. According to MIT, the required living wage for a family of four with two working parents in Wisconsin is $92,622 vs the national average for a family of four with two working parents of $89,744. The median income of a Wisconsin household is $63,293.
The cheapest housing market in Wisconsin is Antigo. The average home value in Antigo is $69,400, the lowest in the state. The average home value in Wisconsin is $189,200, almost 2.7 times higher than Antigo.
Methodology: How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Badger State For 2022
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:
- How much do money do I make?
- How much do I have spend to live there?
You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.
For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it’s actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.
With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2016-2020 around incomes and costs. They are:
- Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
- Median Home Price
We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).
You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Wisconsin to figure out which is the least expensive.
What you are left with is a “Cost of Living Index” by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.
So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 142 places in Wisconsin that have more than 5,000 people.
The place with the lowest cost of living in Wisconsin according to the data is Rothschild. You can download the data here.
Summary: There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Wisconsin Cheapskate
If you’re looking at the cost of living numbers in Wisconsin, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Wisconsin for 2022.
Here’s a look at the most expensive cities in Wisconsin according to the data:
- Fox Point
For more Wisconsin reading, check out:
- Worst Places To Live In Wisconsin
- Best Places To Live In Wisconsin
- Best Places To Raise A Family In Wisconsin
The Most Affordable Places To Live In Wisconsin
|22||Fond Du Lac||42.0|
|30||Prairie Du Chien||47.33|
|31||North Fond Du Lac||48.0|